The Palo Alto High School boys’ water polo team will return with vengeance this fall after ending its last season with a loss in the Central Coast Section quarterfinals.
Despite losing a handful of key players in the previous senior class, the Vikings will regroup with a unit led by senior field player Andrew Jozefov and junior field player Jack Anderson.
Returning senior field player Tommy Smale says he believes that although the team lost strong players, returning players will strengthen the Vikings.
“We had really good talent last year like [previous senior field players] Kevin Bowers, Winston Rosati and Ryan Reed who had the strongest shots in the league, but we have new guys coming in that are great too,” Smale said. “Look out for [senior] Jared Stanley, [senior] Andrew Jozefov and junior Jack Anderson. We have a young gunner freshman Dexter Gormley and an all-around great team who will work together to win.”
Jozefov also says he is certain the younger players will step up this season.
“Dexter Gormley, a freshman, will play a major role this year and sophomore goalie Ben Rappaport is going to be a brick wall back there in the net,” Jozefov said.
Although the team fell short of a championship last season, the players believe they can learn from their mistakes and improve to reach the CCS finals.
“Last year we had great talent but did not focus and work hard enough in practices,” Smale said. “A lack of focus last year was our downfall despite having a successful season going to the quarterfinals of CCS. This year we have been killing it in practices, which will contribute to a lot of victories.”
Senior field player Eric Maser says he is optimistic about the upcoming season.
“There isn’t one man you can name on the team,” Maser said. “You could pick any starter or any guy off the bench. Everyone on this team is ready to go.”
Smale says he is also confident in the team as a whole.
“Our team feels really excited for the upcoming season from No. 1 to No. 14 down the roster,” Smale said. “Each and every player can compete and contribute something menacing to the team.”
Coach Aaron Johnson will guide the team this season, making it his fourth year coaching for Paly, and second year as the varsity coach. Johnson led the Vikings to an 8-6 league record last year.
Due to construction involving the athletic facilities, the team will practice at Stanford University and play its home games at Gunn High School.
The Vikings will kick off their season versus Davis High School at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Gunn High School.